Wednesday, January 19, 2022

In God’s Likeness (Genesis 1:1-26)

"Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over … all the earth …” (Genesis 1:26).

In our previous lesson we learned how philosophers have defined man in one-dimensional terms—economic, social, sexual, psychological, racial, and the like. Despite their efforts to answer the question “What is man?” each time they have come up short. That is because any attempt to reduce humanity to one aspect is to produce a distortion. Man is complex. No two people are exactly alike, revealing the diversity in God’s creation. Today we will examine more closely the theological aspect of being human.

When we look at Scriptures such as Genesis 1:26, we find that man is defined as a creature and as being in the image of God. Man is not God. He is not infinite or eternal. He is a creature. He has boundaries and limitations and is subject to his Creator. Yet even though man is subordinate to God, he is given the role of dominion over the rest of creation. He is different from the birds, the fish, the cattle, and the plants. He is made in the likeness of God and given authority over the earth.

Unlike Roman Catholic theology that differentiates the terms likeness and image, Protestants assert that the terms mean essentially the same thing. In our very being, we reflect the character of God. But verse 26 refers to man at creation, before the Fall. Are we still in the image of God? Some people think the image of God has been completely obliterated, that we are on par with the animals. But this is contrary to Scripture, which maintains that man has retained the image of God even after the fall. We discover this in Genesis 9:6: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”

It is because man is made in the image of God that Christians hold human life in such high esteem. Many people, particularly pro-abortionists, accuse pro-life people of being inconsistent when they oppose abortion yet defend the death penalty. They argue that if people were really pro-life, they couldn’t possibly support the death penalty. Unfortunately, many Christians have fallen for this line of thinking and have abandoned their stance for capital punishment. But God’s Word clearly institutes the death penalty because man is made in the image of God.

Mankind has not been reduced to the level of animals. Fetuses are not heaps of “domestic sewage,” and murderers deserve due punishment. As our culture devalues human life, it becomes extremely unbalanced. Form your behavior by a biblical view of humanity, which says that man is made in God’s image.